After the First Kiss

After the First Kiss

~~~ Misty ~~~

            Every little girl dreams of her first kiss, and I was no exception.  I had imagined it many times growing up.  Maybe it would be at the end of our first date, hiding in the shadows from the porch light.  Maybe we would be walking in the park, holding hands, and kiss at sunset.   Maybe it would just be spontaneous, some beautiful scenario that I would never be able to invent no matter how much I dreamed.

            Yes, every little girl dreams of her first kiss.  But little girls grow up, and though I held onto my childhood dreams for as long as I could, eventually I had to let them go.  But it was tenderly, not painfully.  For I didn't lose my dream because it was broken.  It simply changed when I realized, it's not the first kiss that matters.

            It's the first kiss of the one I love that does. 

            The love story is too long to tell here, but the kiss isn't.  And it all began when my then friend Ash Ketchum became the Johto League champion.

~~~ Ash ~~~

            "YES!"

            I screamed into the cheering crowds.  That one word could not begin to express my feelings at that moment.  I was on top of the world, riding high as a Pidgeot on a wave of adrenaline.  Pikachu was in my arms as I swung round and round, and my other pokémon danced around me, waiting their turn to join me in a big, joyous group hug.  Life couldn't be better. 

            Amazingly enough though, even as the applause rolled over me I was thinking ahead.  You'd think I'd be so caught up in the excitement that it was all I could think about.  But the funny thing is, I had never thought past that moment before. My whole life up to this point had been spent trying to became a pokémon master, and I had just achieved a major step in that direction.   Where did I go from here? 

            I never thought the answer wouldn't be where...but with whom.

            The reporters were swarming the entrance to the stadium, but I could see my family and friends breaking through.  And somebody had already made his way to my side.  In spite of the fact that I had just beaten him, Gary smiled and held out his hand.  "Congratulations," he said. 

            "Thanks," was all I had time to say before I got mauled by a bunch of hyper girls and overly macho boys.  Brock swiped my hat off and knuckled my head, and my mom gave me a big slobbery kiss right there in front of everyone.  Even Misty was excited enough to hug me, but she let go almost immediately, as embarrassed as I was by her actions.  I'm sure she would have said something, but the officials reached me then and I was swept away for a round of victory duties, statements, and celebrations. 

            I wished they hadn't.  Misty and I had to talk.  There was a funny little ache in my chest, and I knew what it was from.  I had known it all week. 

            But even as I was led away I saw Jason walking up to her and giving a long, lingering hug.  One that she didn't shy away from.

~~~  Misty  ~~~

            Ash had been busy all that week, and he was still busy.  It was the evening after the final battle, and there was a victory celebration for the new champion.  Challengers had been approaching him all evening to congratulate him and ask for a future battle.  I hadn't seen him since he won, and that bothered me.  Because I didn't know how much longer I would be seeing him again. 

            The party was held outside.  The weather had cooperated all week, and this evening was just as beautiful as the days had been.  The atmosphere was festive and the decorations matched—there were brightly colored streamers everywhere and paper lanterns with candles glowing inside them hung all around the perimeter.  Up above us the sky was cloudless, and when we were away from the glare of the lights, we could see the stars twinkling.  It was an ideal evening for two people to be together.  Which is why it was nice that Jason was there.

            We'd met the second day of competitions.  I had already grown tired of waiting around for Ash, but realized it was only going to get worse before it got better.  He still had three more days of battles—four, if you counted that day.  I could hang around Brock, but he was in seventh heaven looking for Nurse Joys or Officer Jennys or any other girl who appeared to be in at least the beginning stages of womanhood.  I was somewhat surprised that he hadn't noticed me any of the four years we had traveled together, but I guess you can't see what's in front of your own eyes.  He wasn't the only one with the problem.

            Jason and I met, ironically, in the stands at Ash's first battle that day.  Well, that's somewhat misleading.  I didn't notice him, but he said he  had seen me when he had stood near me in the crowd.  He told me this at our first introduction, later that day at the PokéCenter Station in the lobby.  Brock and I had seen Ash briefly as he dropped off his poké-balls, but then he said he and Professor Oak had some things to do before the next battle and were taking care of it over lunch.  It's not that I assumed I wasn't invited, because that had never mattered before.  It was just that, with his hurried behavior and somewhat vague excuses—I felt I wasn't. 

            It wasn't the first time.  Over the past few months Ash had been acting strange around me.  He never seemed to talk directly to me anymore, and heaven forbid we be left alone together.  I knew what it was, and it hurt.  He was one of my best friends.

            And we were growing apart. 

            Several weeks ago I had sadly come to the conclusion that, win or lose the Johto League, he probably wouldn't want me around on his journeys after that.  I was a bit vulnerable at the sense of loss, and I think that's why I accepted Jason as a friend so easily.  Though I could tell right away he wasn't just interested in me just as a friend.  He liked me, as in 'liked me,' liked me—you know, as a girl. 

            I was flattered, but having never had a boyfriend before, I wasn't sure how to react.  I just treated him as I would any of my other friends, though he was more affectionate. We never talked about our feelings, so I was hard pressed to get him to understand all week.  But I didn't want to hurt him, because he was so sweet.  He complimented me, held my hand, put his arm around my shoulders, hugged me. 

            The only thing that bothered me was his aggressiveness.  All this was new to me, and it made me slightly uncomfortable.  He never asked before he touched me, and I was too afraid of making him feel bad to pull away.  Except for once earlier in the week.  He had placed his hand on my back, brushing his fingertips on the bare skin above the waistband of my shorts.  My heart had hammered at the touch, and I had tried to move away, but he interpreted it differently and put his arm around my waist instead.  I got away by excusing myself to go the ladies' room.  I wasn't ready to deal with that feeling of intimacy yet.

            But the boy was persistent, and he did make the week bearable.  We had attended the rest of the matches with Brock, ate lunch and dinner with each other every day, and browsed all the other League carnival-type attractions together.  All the stuff I would have done with Ash and Brock, had Ash not been busy competing, and Brock busy doing...actually, I was kind of scared to ask what he was doing the rest of the day.  Suffice to say it was probably lucky he hadn't been cited for sexual harassment yet.

            I can't say I wouldn't be glad when Jason and I finally parted ways at the end of the week, though the idea was bittersweet.  This wasn't the way I had imagined a friendship coming to an end—and I wasn't talking about Jason.  But the end had already come.  This was the last night of the official ceremonies. 

            Speak of the devil, Jason was now walking towards me with a smile on his face and a glass of punch in his hand.  I skimmed the crowds once more for Ash, but he was nowhere to be seen.  I sighed, knowing I should have expected it.  There was no reason for this night to be different than the rest of the week.  I pasted a smile on my own face and prepared to spend the evening with Jason.

           

~~~Ash~~~

            Yes!  Yes!  Victory was mine.  I had succeeded once again.  I was astounding, I was fantastic—the best in the world.

            Best escape artist, that is—I had managed to slip away from the crowds.

            I hadn't left the party, I'd simply grabbed a table that was on the peripheral.  I had a clear view of all the goings on in my immediate vicinity, but I was safe enough in the shadows that no one sought after me.  This gave me time to think.

            The dancing had begun, and I knew that Misty must be enjoying herself.  She had always liked dances.  In fact, a couple of times I even saw her twirl by as she danced past with Jason. 

            She looked beautiful tonight, as she always did now.  She wore her hair down, and her dress kimono fitted the curves that I desperately tried not to notice she had developed.  It felt dirty to be admiring my best friend like that.  But it was getting harder to pretend I didn't.  She was almost sixteen.  We had all grown up over the last few years, but Misty had blossomed the earliest and loveliest.  Brock had seen this too, but he thought of Misty like a sister, so it didn't affect him, at least not as much.  I didn't know what to think—until recently, that's what I had thought, too.

            Misty danced by with Jason again.  He leaned over to whisper in her ear and she laughed and pushed him away.  I looked away, not liking the feelings that this scene brought me.  For some reason it was hard for me to see them together. 

            It had been like this all week.  Misty and I had seen each other a few times, and I had met Jason because he was always the one dropping her off.  He was so possessive of her—he usually had his arm around her, or was touching her shoulder, or holding her hand—things like that.  I knew I was being irrational (though that had never stopped me before.)  Misty obviously enjoyed his attentions, and I wasn't in any way qualified to tell her who to be friends with.

            That's what she insisted he was, a friend.  This was in the middle of teasing me and calling me jealous.  I obviously had to fight with her over that, but honestly, I can't say that she was entirely wrong.  After all, I had been her friend—her best friend.  But lately, I've been getting indications that, even though I feel as close to her as ever, she wants to move on.  And I couldn't help but wonder if Jason would be moving along with her, replacing me as her new best friend.  If not something else.

~~~Misty~~~

            It was later in the evening.  Impossible as it may seem, I had actually tired of dancing before Jason did and finally begged off of the next dance.  We drifted over to the edges of the crowd, but the dancers still shifted past.  Once in a while there was a break in the crowd and I could see Ash dancing—with his pokémon.  He didn't seem to realize that the Macarena had gone out of style five years ago.  He could be such a dork sometimes.

            But at least he's a cute dork...

            Without warning I felt the beginnings of tears at the corners of my eyes.  I hastily wiped them away.  If anyone asked I could always blame the smoke from candles inside the lanterns.  But I couldn't help it.  Maybe I hadn't lived long enough to say this, but I felt that the past four years had been the best years of my life.  I didn't want it to end. 

            Jason turned to me.  "Are you okay?" he asked.           

            "I'm fine," I assured him.  "Just...tired."

            "Want to go for a walk?" he asked. 

            "Sure."

            He reached out his arm as if to take me by the waist, so I quickly grabbed his hand instead, pretending that's what I thought he wanted to do.  He only smiled and we walked a little ways away, down a small footpath near the woods.  We walked only so far that the crowds were no longer visible and the noise of the party was just a faint buzz. 

            Jason steered me towards a large rock that was protruding from the grass, chivalrously draped his jacket over it so that my kimono wouldn't get dirty, and we used it as a bench.

            "We need to talk," he said.  God, how I wished it were someone else saying those words...

            "I've had a great time this week, Misty," he said.  "I really like you."  I had a sinking feeling of déjà vu as I knew I wouldn't be able to duck away from his intentions this time.  Where had I heard this before?

            "Do you know what you're doing after this is all over, yet?"  he asked. 

            He had touched a sore spot.  I didn't...but I didn't want to be with him. 

            "I think I may go visit my sisters," I said vaguely.  "It's been a long time since I've seen them."

            "What a coincidence.  I'm going back to my family, too."  He paused.  "In fact, I was kind of hoping you might want to come with me and meet them.  Is there any chance you might want to take a short detour and stop by on your way back?"

            "I..."  I gulped.  "Jason, that's really sweet of you.  But I don't think I can." 

            "Why not?" he asked, and I didn't know how to answer.  But the silence must have told enough.   "I understand.  You don't like me back."

            "It's not that," I protested.  "It's just—Jason, I feel lucky that someone like you likes me.  And I do like you, too.  But only as a friend."

            "Same difference," he said, and I felt a pang of guilt as he ducked his head sadly at my admission.  "Do you think you could do me a favor though?"

            "What's that?"

            "Can I have a good-bye kiss to remember you by?" he asked.  I was startled by the request and instinctively started to pull away from him.

            "I...I don't think that would be right..." I faltered, but he already had his arm around my waist and was drawing me closer.

            "Please?" he asked.

            "But I don't..." was all I got out before the stars were blocked out by his face and I closed my eyes as his lips landed on mine.

~~~Ash~~~

            The night was drawing to a close.  Tomorrow we would have the award ceremony, and then we would all be leaving, but where to was anyone's guess.  Trainers had come from everywhere to compete in the League, and would be scattering to all sorts of different places.  Brock had promised to come back to Pallet town with me and visit for a little while longer, then he would be leaving to start his own path to become a pokémon breeder.  I didn't know what Misty wanted to do.

            Inspiration struck.  I couldn't be faulted for wanting one dance with my best friend, could I?  And if it just so happened to be the last dance... 

            I started to scan the crowds.  She was around here a minute ago...

            "Brock," I said, tracking him down in an effort to find Misty.  He had somehow managed to get five girls to agree to dance with him—at the same time.  I shook my head.  Usually they were all running away in different directions.  Then again, he was only dancing, not talking.  They might be leaving as soon as he opened his mouth.

            "Brock," I said again.  "Do you know where Misty is?"

            "I saw her a little while ago," he said.  "I think she went somewhere with Jason."

            "Oh," I said.  I should have known. 

            "But Ash..." he said, and I knew it was important, because he actually took his attentions away from the girls.  He never did that. 

            "This is one time I don't think she'd mind you interrupting," he said, winking.  "I'm pretty sure she walked off that way."  He nodded his head to indicate where. 

            "Are you sure?"

            "I'm never sure with Misty," he laughed.  "But I do know she's been wanting to talk to you."

            This was a revelation. 

            "Thanks," I said, and it wasn't just for pointing me in the right direction. 

            "Was that the champion?" I heard one of the girls ask excitedly as I walked away.

            "Sure was.  You know, I taught him everything he knows," Brock bragged.  I suppressed a grin and kept walking.  That was close enough.  Besides, that was relatively tame for him.

            Not far from the crowds I found a little footpath.  If Brock was right, then I was guessing this was the direction Misty was in.  I set off and watched the stars as I walked.  It was a perfect night.  It would be even more perfect if the words I wanted to say to her came out right...

            And then I saw her.  She looked really pretty, with the moonlight spilling onto her hair and reflecting off her silk kimono.  Jason had his arm on that smooth fabric, encircling her waist, and I had both feelings of jealousy and doubt.  Despite Brock's words, I didn't think she wanted to be disturbed right now.

            My feelings were confirmed and I felt my chest clench up in an inexplicable ache as Jason then leaned over and I watched them fall into a soft kiss.

~~~Misty~~~

            I couldn't breathe for a moment.  Then...

            "YOU STUPID JERK!"  I gave him a shove, nearly knocking him off the rock, as I angrily stood up and started to march off.  All the stress from the past week fell on me at once with his actions.  Tears blinded my vision.  He had no right.  He had no right...

            "Misty, wait!" he recovered and jumped up to follow me.  I ignored him, but he caught up to me.  He grabbed my wrist.  "I didn't mean anything by it.."

            "I told you no!" I yelled, trying to pull away from his grasp.  He held firm though, and pulled me closer.  I looked away angrily.  That was my first kiss.  My first kiss, and it had been stolen from me...

            "Please Misty, let's not leave like this.  I didn't mean to hurt your feelings."

            "Too late," I said, trying to sound forceful but my voice wobbling instead.  "Now let me go, I want to leave."

            "But Misty..."

            "I said, let me go!"

            "Can't I say one more thing..."

            "She said, LET HER GO!"

            I startled at the new voice, and heard Jason grunt as the person reached us and pushed him away from me.  Jason let go of his grip but I wasn't expecting it and stumbled backwards.  I fell against the person, losing my balance, but he caught me and quickly pulled me up, keeping his arm around my back protectively. 

            "Are you okay?" Ash asked anxiously.  He had grown over the time we had been together, and even though he was a little more than a year younger than me, we were both the same height now—so that he was able to look straight in my eyes as he spoke to me.

            I could only nod.

~~~Ash~~~

            "Excuse me, we were talking."  Jason's words polite words were belied by his ice cold tone. 

            "You're finished now," I said, not even trying to hide my animosity.

            "You have no idea what was going on..."

            "I saw enough.  Misty wants you to leave, now leave."

            "Misty..." Jason began.

            "He's right.  Leave me alone," she said shakily.  God, she was trembling in my arms.  I felt a surge of anger in my veins.  Who the hell did he think he was?  If he had hurt her...

            "FINE!" he suddenly shouted.  "Be that way!  I don't give a damn.  It's not like she's been a tease all week, the stupid bi—"

            He wasn't allowed to finish his statement, as he found it a little hard to talk when my fist was connecting with his jawbone.

            "Don't you dare say anything like that ever again," I said, surprising even myself with vehemence in my demand.  I was looking down at him, as the momentum from my punch had knocked him flat to the ground.  He glared up at me.  I didn't care.  "Now leave.  For that matter, if you know what's good for you, you'll pack your bags and leave the competition grounds this night, because if I see you tomorrow, I'm not going to wait until you open your mouth before I hit you again."

            He staggered his way to his feet, looked like he was about to say something else, then thought better of it.  He gave Misty one last withering glance but backed off when I took a threatening step towards him.  I waited until I was sure he was gone, then turned to see how Misty was doing.

            "Am I really a tease?" she asked in a small voice.  I quickly covered the distance between us and took her in my arms.  She let me.

            "No, of course not!" I said forcefully, bringing her chin up so she could look in my eyes and see that I meant it.  "How could you think that?  That guy was just an idiot."

            "He was nice all week," she said, burying her head in my shoulder.  "I thought we were friends...I never thought he would...I just thought maybe he was right, it was my fault..."

            "It's not your fault," I said, rubbing her back.  She sniffed and leaned her weight against me as she struggled to regain her composure.  We stood there in silence.  After a moment it grew awkward and we broke away.

            "Misty," I said, sighing.  "Look, I don't know if this is the right time, but...we need to talk."

            Then to my surprise she gave me a big smile, wiped her eyes, took me by the hand and led me over to a rock by the side of the road.

~~~Misty~~~

            Life is funny.  It was the same place, the same situation—but the results were drastically different.

            We sat next to each other.  Ash was too clueless to lay his coat over the rock for me, but he did try to place it over my shoulders when I shivered.

            "I'm fine," I reassured him, shrugging it off.  "I'm not cold.  Thank you, though."

            "Are you alright?" he asked, and touched my elbow in concern.  The light pressure on my arm comforted me.  "He didn't try to hurt you did he?"

            "No, no, he didn't.  It's just that..."  I trailed off.   He wouldn't understand.  "Never mind.  You'll think it's stupid," I said.  My voice broke in the middle of the sentence and I coughed to clear the tears from my throat.

            "No, I won't," he said.  I didn't know whether he was lying or not, but I appreciated the thought.  Suddenly tears burned my eyes at his kindness and I couldn't hold back.

            "It's just...I've never been kissed before.  You're supposed to remember your first kiss forever, but I always thought it was supposed to be a good memory."  I started crying, and put my hand over my eyes in a futile attempt to hide the evidence.  He was probably thinking about how dumb I was.  It was just a kiss...even I felt I was overreacting. 

            But why did it hurt so much?

            "It's okay," he told me, rubbing my shoulder gently in a gesture of consolation.  "I don't think that one counts."  I gave a small laugh through my tears.

            "What are you talking about?  A kiss is a kiss," I said.

            "But if you didn't want it..."

            "I didn't," I said, feeling my chest twist in pain again at the thought.

            "...then it doesn't matter," Ash finished.  "Think about it, Mist.  Don't you think the important thing about a kiss is who you kiss, not when you kiss?  When you do kiss the person you like for the first time, you'll forget all about Jason."

            I was quiet as I let his words sunk in, then I gave him a watery smile.  "You're smarter than I give you credit for.  Believe it or not, I think you're right."  I laughed, and the tears almost stopped.  Ash looked relieved, but looked at me compassionately as I sighed and added wistfully,  "It's just that...I wish I didn't have to think about it until I have my first real kiss.  And who knows how long it will be before somebody will like me enough to want to kiss me?"

            Beside me, Ash went very still.

~~~Ash~~~

             I cleared my throat, and looked up at the stars.  I had to do something to make her feel better, but would she really want me to...?

            "You know, um, I hear it's customary sometimes to give the champion a victory kiss," I said weakly, stumbling over the words.  My face blazed bright red the instant I said it.  Now I was the idiot.  Who was I to think that she would want to kiss me?

            "Is that so?" she asked teasingly. 

            "I...ah...forget I said that..."

            "Close your eyes," she said.

            "What?"

            "Close your eyes."  Her own eyes were sparkling, or maybe that was just the reflection of the stars in them...good grief, since when did I become a bad poet?

            My heart was pounding, and I swear, I couldn't have moved if I had wanted to.  I did as she asked, and held my breath.  It seemed to take an eternity, though it could only have been a few seconds, before her lips touched mine.

            Her face was right next to mine...her lips were so soft...I could hear a slight sigh as she exhaled gently.  My brain was absolutely frozen.  Until the sound of her giggling broke my trance as she pulled away from me almost as quickly as she had begun.

            "You're so nervous!" she said, laughing.  "You're not even kissing back!"

            My face turned hot in embarrassment.  "Well, excuse me!" I said, and she sobered.

            "Don't be mad.  Here, let me show you.  Close your eyes again.  Lean down.  Tilt your head like this."  She put her hand on the back of my neck to show me, sending tingles down my spine.  "And don't be scared to kiss back." 

            This time, when I felt the soft pressure of her kiss, I let myself fall into it.  She seemed to lean backwards and my hand automatically drifted to the small of her back to hold her.  Her fingers, which she hadn't moved from my neck, brushed the nape of my hair and I felt a chill of pleasure.  Then we pulled apart.

            "Now that was something to remember," she said approvingly, and we were content to just sit there and hold each other.

           

~~~Misty~~~

            "I thought you didn't want me traveling with you anymore," I admitted when we finally got around to talking.  He laughed.

            "I thought you didn't want to travel with me anymore," he said.  "I guess we were both wrong.  I hope," he said anxiously.

            "Duh."  I broke from his hold long enough to punch him and then hugged him again.  Like I said, he could really be a dork sometimes.

            But not only was he a cute dork, now he was my dork...

            "I almost forgot," he said.  "I came to ask you if you wanted to dance with me.  But I think it's too late for even the last dance.  The party's probably over by now," he said in regret.  I smiled, not minding a bit.  It's not as if there wouldn't be other dances to come.  But if he was disappointed...

            "Who says we need music?" I said, standing and pulling him up with me.  "I think that sounds perfect.  So, do you dance like you kiss, or do I have to teach you that too?"

            He blushed.  "I can dance," he said defensively.

            "With Pikachu," I teased.

            "Yeah, but we don't slow dance," he said, then cautiously put his arm around my waist.  The boy was still nervous.  I smiled and leaned my head on his shoulder.  I think he liked that.  I felt his body relax into mine. 

            We swayed quietly together, making circles in the grass.  Ash didn't appear to be telling the truth about his dancing ability, but maybe he was better when he had a rhythm to move to.  Besides, I was just enjoying being next to him.

            "What are you thinking about?" he asked.

            "You," I answered, and he blushed again.  He was cute when he did that.  "I was thinking that I would have laughed out loud if someone had told us when we first met that four years later, you would give me my first real kiss.  What are you thinking about?"

            "The same thing," he said.  "Or at least essentially.  I was just thinking..."  He cleared his throat.  "It's pretty nice to fall in love with your best friend." 

            Love.  I felt a warm sensation in my heart.  "Yes, it is," I agreed. 

            "I guess we're both just late bloomers, huh?" he said.

            "Are you kidding?" I smiled up at him as I answered. 

            "I think the timing's just right."

The End

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This is for Sharon, who practically demanded I write some more AAML.  Be careful what you ask for...this was the result of drinking two cokes before bedtime.  A sugar/caffeine high is dangerous any time of the day, but especially after midnight.  At least I waited till the next day to edit it.  Let's see...the plot, theme, style, characterization, etc, are not particularly (read: not at all) original, but I think it's safe to say that I'm the only author named Llyxius with a story of this title.  ^_^;  Not to mention it's sappier than a bottle of maple syrup.  Hope you liked it anyway...or in other words, please review!  I'd like to know what you liked, and constructive criticism is quite welcome.  Though in regards to flamers, let's put it this way.  As I sit here, I'm looking at the pinkie toe on my left foot, which is quite literally black and blue because it's currently broken.  I'd hate to have to kick you and accidentally break the other one.   -_-; 

Disclaimer:  I own pokémon....cards, stickers, posters, toys, and pillows.  And since I'd have to let you borrow them without my permission if I didn't want to be a hypocrite, thank goodness none of you know where I live.  ^_~